Life in the Ivory Tower: Those who can, teach; Those who can’t, do. Behzad Razavi Electrical Engineering Department University of California, Los Angeles "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach." George Bernard Shaw What do profs do? Learn the fine art of juggling. Teach. Research: Try new ideas, supervise grad students, write papers, write proposals, schmooz with companies and other funding agencies, serve on conferences and journals, network with peers, maintain lab facilities, maintain CAD tools. Write books. University service: courses and curriculum, admissions and fellowships, prelims, quals, seminars, faculty candidates, school-level committees. But why?! “America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.” Evan Esar Why Go to Academia? Like the freedom of research that academia offers. Like teaching. Like the dynamic and rejuvenating nature of academic life. Like the flexible style of academia consulting, starting companies, etc. Can't find a job in industry. Research Crack a real, difficult problem by an elegant, novel solution. Need to pose these questions at the beginning and at the end: - What is the problem? Why do we care? - What is our novelty? - Can others duplicate our results? - Will others duplicate our results? - How do we compare with prior art? Requires that we constantly identify or invent interesting topics. Both creativity and vision are important. Publish or Perish Conference papers give immediate visibility. Journal papers create long-term archival record that enables others to duplicate results. (Many universities “count” only journal papers.) Need to remain visible: travel around the world and present new results 10 trips/year PhD Students Need to apply a great deal of scrutiny in selecting students. Look for intelligence, independent thinking, creativity, persistence, communication skills. (Will the student pass the prelims?) Need to understand the psychology of each student and treat him/her accordingly. Need to shield the student from pressures of sponsors. Professor often worries more about the work than the student does. Difference between PhD Student and Prof. PhD student knows everything about nothing. Professor knows nothing about everything. Funding It’s tough. Writing proposals and managing contracts takes about 20% of professors’ time. Professors Funding Agencies Teaching Rewarding experience. First time, takes 10 hours of work for one hour of lecture. Teaching undergrads much tougher than teaching grads. Need to revise and update the material each time. A great deal of thought goes into designing homeworks, exams, and course projects. Financial Prospects Professors who are good at what they do are typically in high demand outside university as well: - Teaching Short Courses - Consulting - Starting Companies - Expert Witness On the average, profs and engineers in industry are on roughly equal financial footings. 20% of profs start companies; 1 out of 4 may become successful. Finding an Academic Job It is preferable to work in industry for a few years. There are certain windows for entering academia. Your CV and statement say a lot about you. Universities look for these components: - Innovation - Vision - Publications - Teaching and Communication Skills Preparations – Phase I Starting a couple of years before graduation, look through every issue of IEEE Spectrum and monitor which university is looking for what type of expertise. Work on your writing and presentation skills. Give seminars at different universities once you have presentable results. (But remember: first impressions are important.) Talk to your advisor and seek additional activities that can enhance your qualifications. Preparations – Phase II Target departments whose faculty do NOT have much overlap with you. Do your homework thoroughly: - Learn about the research of every faculty at that department (in your area and related areas). - Present yourself as someone who can bring new exciting areas of research to the department, but also as someone whose expertise complements other faculty’s work.